Yearly check-ups are important for all people, especially when it comes to teeth and eyes. In 2010, the National Eye Institute stated that there has been a steady rise of glaucoma in the Latino community. In that year alone, there had been more than 220,000 diagnosed cases of glaucoma in Latinos.
Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the optic nerve of the eye and lead to vision loss and blindness. The most common form of glaucoma is called primary open-angle glaucoma where fluid builds up in the front chamber of the eye and damage of the optic nerve is caused from the pressure from the fluid on the eye.
By 2030, the NEI of the National Institute of Health projects there will be approximately 606,000 cases among Latinos, an increase of 170 percent; the highest among ethnic minority groups. It is the leading cause of blindness among Latinos.
According to Dr. James Tsai, chair of the Glaucoma Subcommittee for the NEI National Eye Health Education Program, a person does not experience any noticeable vision loss in the early stages of glaucoma. But as this disease progresses, a person may notice their side vision decreasing. Left untreated, the field of vision narrows and blindness may result.
There are no known reasons as to why this happens although it has been linked to complications with diabetes patients. People with diabetes are twice as likely to develop glaucoma as those without diabetes, states the Glaucoma Research Foundation. Fascinatingly enough, those who have open-angle glaucoma first are more likely to develop diabetes.
How to Prevent It
Glaucoma can be detected early through a comprehensive dilated eye exam, states Dr. Paul Sieving, director of the NEI. This exam may save your sight. In this simple procedure, eye drops are placed in the eye which causes the pupils to dilate, or widen. A magnifying glass is then used to examine the blood vessels, retina and optic nerves for any damage that may have been caused to the eye. Your vision might still be blurry even after the examination, so you may want to bring a friend to have them drive you home. Didn’t drive? Bring sunglasses. Even on the gloomy days, your eyes will be extra sensitive after dilation.
These dilated eye exams can help in early detection of glaucoma, along with other various eye problems, which can help in saving the eye from serious damage.